Blades withstand late push by Raiders

Photo by Keith Hershmiller/WHL Prince Albert Raiders forward Reece Vitelli is turned aside by Saskatoon Blades netminder Nolan Maier in the late stages of Thursday’s game at the Brandt Centre.

The Prince Albert Raiders were inches away from forcing overtime on Thursday night at the Brandt Centre.

Blueliner Remy Aquilon wrapped his way around the Saskatoon Blades net and found Dallyn Peekeekoot in front, but his shot and a rebound attempt by Reece Vitelli were turned aside by Blades goaltender Nolan Maier.

The Blades would seal their 5-3 victory on the following shift as Caiden Daley raced down the ice to score on an empty cage to hand their Raiders their second straight loss.

“I thought we worked hard but some little mistakes that we made in our game cost us in the end as they (the Blades) were able to put it in the back of the net,” Vitelli said. “If we clean those mistakes up, we have a different result.”

“It was a good hockey game,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid added. “There was lots going on with big hits, fights and good offensive plays… and we had two glorious chances there to tie it late.”

Thursday’s setback, which dropped the Raiders record to 4-8-1-1, spoiled an impressive showing for rookie forward Dallyn Peekeekot.

In just his fifth WHL game, the 16-year-old had a goal and two assists to go along with an opening period fight with overage blueliner Wyatt McLeod.

“He just does all the little things right and it’s nice to play with him,” Vitelli said. “I’m definitely inspired by how he plays and we could all follow him with what he brings.”

“Sometimes you get guys that go out there and work with skating instructors and stick handling coaches but you just don’t notice them,” Habscheid added. “With Dallyn, you notice him. He’s a smart kid and he knows how to play.”

Peekeekoot’s strong performances have earned him a spot on the top line with Ozzy Wiesblatt and Vitelli.

The trio did the most damage on offence for the Raiders on Thursday as Vitelli banged home a rebound in the second period and Wiesblatt had a pair of helpers.

“It’s a pretty good mix on that line and ‘Peeks’ does a good job of going to the net to create space,” Habscheid said.

“That’s not something that everyone likes to does as you get slashed and cross checked, but he doesn’t care. He goes to the net and that’s creating space for the other two guys.”

Nolan Allan got his first goal of the season by converting a feed from Wiesblatt and Max Paddock turned aside 33 shots for the Raiders.

The Blades, who snapped a three-game losing streak and improved their record to 10-2-2-0, were led on offence by Tristen Robins as the San Jose Sharks prospect had a goal and three assists.

“It’s an always exciting for us and everyone that’s watching our games when we play the Raiders,” Robins said after the Blades earned their third straight victory over their archrivals.

“It’s pretty easy to get up for these games and it feels even better that we got this win against those guys.”

Daley, Kyle Crnkovic and Brandon Lisowsky had a goal and an assist each in the triumph, which also saw Colton Dach light the lamp and Maier make 20 saves.

The Raiders are now preparing for a pair of games this weekend as they’ll take on the Winnipeg Ice on Saturday and the Swift Current Broncos on Sunday.

Both contest will get underway at 4 p.m. at the Brandt Centre.

Post-Game Notes

Dallyn Peekeekoot became the third Raiders player to record a Gordie Howe Hat Trick this season as the rookie forward joined Ozzy Wiesblatt and Justin Nachbaur in accomplishing that feat.

The last time the Raiders had a trio of players that scored a goal, had an assist and got in a fight in the same game during a season was in the 2011-12 campaign when Tyler Yaworski, Kellan Tochkin and Mark McNeill all accomplished that trifecta in matchups with the Saskatoon Blades.

Forward Evan Herman was back in the lineup for the Raiders on Thursday after he had missed the last four games with an injury he suffered against the Blades last Monday.

Brandon Lisowsky’s two-point performance moved him into a tie for third place with Winnipeg Ice forwards Zachary Benson and Conor Geekie in the WHL rookie scoring race with 11 points.

Kaiden Guhle, Graydon Gotaas, Logan Danis and Max Hildebrand did not dress for the Raiders, while the Blades were without the services of Ben Saunderson, Hayden Smith, Braden Plascheswky, Sammy May, Pavel Bocharov and Ethan Chadwick.

Tuesday’s Scores

  • Winnipeg 3 Saskatoon 2 (Owen Pederson Overtime Winner – Peyton Krebs – One Goal and One Assist)
  • Regina 6 Swift Current 1 (Connor Bedard – Two Goals and Two Assists)
  • Victoria 3 Prince George 2 (Brayden Tracey Overtime Winner – Two Goals and One Assist)
  • Everett 6 Portland 4 (Gage Goncalves – One Goal and Two Assists)
  • Tri-City 5 Seattle 2 (Talyn Boyko – 28 Saves)

Wednesday’s Scores

  • Winnipeg 6 Moose Jaw 3 (Peyton Krebs – One Goal and Three Assists)
  • Spokane 5 Tri-City 2 (Reed Jacobson – Two Goals and Two Assists)
  • Brandon 4 Swift Current 1 (Nate Danielson – One Goal and One Assist)
  • Vancouver 6 Victoria 4 (Justin Sourdif – Two Goals and One Assist)

Draisaitl Bobblehead

The Raiders announced on Thursday morning that their second of three bobbleheads for their 50th season will be of former forward and Edmonton Oilers star Leon Draisaitl.

The bobblehead will be available in the service bay at Mann-Northway Chevrolet Buick GMC Cadillac on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will cost $10.

Around the WHL

The Moose Jaw Warriors announced on Thursday that they were promoting assistant general manager Jason Ripplinger to the vacant general manager position that was left open by the recent departure of Alan Millar.

The 45-year-old Ripplinger joined the Warriors as an assistant general manager in the summer of 2017 after spending the previous 17 years as a scout and director of player personnel with the Vancouver Giants.

Millar, who had been the general manager of the Warriors since 2012, left the role in February to become the director of player personnel for Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence.

Pre-Game Notes

The 10-4 Ice enter Saturday’s game with a pair of victories over the Raiders in Regina and are currently on a four-game win streak.

Vegas Golden Knights prospect Peyton Krebs enters the contest on a 13-game point streak and his 27 points are one marker ahead of Regina Pats rookie sensation Connor Bedard for the WHL scoring lead.

The Ice are currently dealing with a number of injuries on their roster as Carson Lambos, Rhys Raeside, Nolan Orzeck, Mike Ladyman and Karter Prosfosky are all out of the lineup.

Friday’s Schedule

  • Brandon vs. Regina – 4 p.m.
  • Everett vs. Seattle – 6 p.m.
  • Medicine Hat vs. Lethbridge – 7 p.m.
  • Calgary vs. Red Deer – 7 p.m.
  • Portland vs. Spokane – 7 p.m.
  • Moose Jaw vs. Swift Current – 8 p.m.
  • Victoria vs. Kamloops – 8 p.m.

Saturday’s Schedule

  • Prince Albert vs. Winnipeg – 4 p.m.
  • Portland vs. Spokane – 6 p.m.
  • Lethbridge vs. Medicine Hat – 7 p.m.
  • Everett vs. Tri-City – 7 p.m.
  • Saskatoon vs. Moose Jaw – 8 p.m.
  • Prince George vs. Vancouver – 8 p.m.